A state representative has filed a measure aimed at holding Ohio State University more accountable as alleged victims of former team doctor Richard Strauss head to court.
A new bill from state Rep. Brett Hillyer (R-Uhrichsville) would let people subjected to sexual misconduct by doctors at land grant universities between 1978-2000 sue those universities.
Strauss worked at Ohio State from the mid-1970s into the 1990s. He killed himself in 2005.
More than 150 men claim Strauss sexually assaulted them while they were students and athletes at Ohio State. Nearly 50 are part of a lawsuit against the school that is headed for mediation.
Early on, Ohio State’s lawyers asked a federal judge to dismiss the case in part because the abuse fell outside the statute of limitations. Hillyer’s bill would remove that limitation for civil claims.
In a press release, attorney Robert Allard says, “sex abuse victims, due to the shame and the trauma, come forward late to present their claims due to memory repression, disassociation, fear, shame, embarrassment and/or intimidation.”
The legal team also claims the concerns some men did raise fell on deaf ears when Ohio State "turned its back on those that reported and did nothing to help them or to stop future students from being sexual abused by Dr. Strauss."
Kent Kilgore, one of the plaintiffs in the case against Ohio State, applauded Hillyer’s bill.
“What we need is for OSU to take accountability and responsibility for its failure to protect its young students when they knew for years that Dr. Strauss was sexually abusing students. OSU had an obligation to protect students. This legislation will force them to act for what happened on their watch,” Killgore said.
Ohio State asked the judge in the case to allow them to release the findings of an independent investigation that began more than a year ago. The report includes confidential material from the State Medical Board, which Attorney General Dave Yost urged the court to deny making public.
On Thursdy, the judge declined to grant the university’s request.
“While the Court believes transparency is a laudable goal in this matter, the Court is not in a position to grant Ohio State the permission it seeks,” Judge Michael Watson wrote in the order.
Watson noted he can set the terms for the reports use as evidence in the case, but allowing its public release is outside the bounds of his authority.